Books and Boxers

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Wow, it has been FOREVER since I've posted. Where have I been? Well.... I'll fill you in next week, during my monthly highlights post, but before I fill you in on my favorite reads starring dogs, I will tell you that my family has a new puppy. *screams and throws confetti* 
His name is Bryzzo (Go Cubs), and I am OBSESSED with his tiny little paws and his absolutely adorable face.  *hugs Bryzzo* Look at him. Tell me that you're not already in love with this little guy. I mean sure, he tried to eat my purse and has a thing against my little brother's remote controlled cars, but he is just so sweet and cuddly and PERFECT. *sighs*
You all may remember Wrigley, my family's ten year old boxer, from some of my past blog posts. Sadly, he recently passed away. =( We all miss him SO much around here. Life isn't the same without him waking us up or chasing his favorite red ball, but Bryzzo has been keeping us on our toes!
Now that you've been filled in on the four-legged friends of Notebooks and Novels, let's get to the bookish part of this post, shall we? =) 
And Now, For The Books...
The Shiloh Series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Shiloh series has had a special spot on my bookshelf ever since my Mom read all three books to my sisters and me when we were little. To this day, I still love the books, and I still hold Shiloh to be one of the best dogs ever in the world of fictional pooches. I mean, c'mon, look at his cute little beagle FACE. Even Dara Lynn couldn't turn her nose up at that! 
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Ginger Pye is another book my Mom read to my sisters and me. Can you tell that she's one of the reasons I love to read so much? =) But anyways, who doesn't want a dog that tracks you down with one of your PENCILS? I need a dog like that to help me remember where I put all of my pencils, which I seem to constantly lose.... *hides face* 
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Because of Winn-Dixie is most definitely my favorite book out of all these that I've listed so far. Ever since I read it, I was in love with Opal and her dog Winn-Dixie who followed her everywhere in her small Southern town as they ate Littimus lozenges. I personally wish that my librarian let Bryzzo in, but he would most likely eat all of the books.... Trust me, I know from experience. *puts books on a high shelf away from dog* 
A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin
This is, in my opinion, the saddest book out of my lineup, but don't let that scare you! There is (thankfully) a happy ending, so I was able to read it. Yes, I'm that kid who boycotted Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows because of the endings. Thanks, Mom, for warning me and therefore saving me from wasting boxes of Kleenexes. A Dog's Life is such a fun read because it's told from a dog's viewpoint-like A Dog's Purpose, which I have yet to read. BUT I SAW THE MOVIE. And, er, cried through it too. 


 What are some of YOUR favorite books with dogs in them? Tell me, so Bryzzo and I can get reading! Have you read any of the books I've included in my line-up? If so, be sure to enter the poll I've added on my sidebar and vote for your favorite! Do you have a dog? If so, what breed is it? Grab your favorite pooch and let's swap puppy stories in the comments and chat!

Glass Girl Book Review

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Recently, when my family went on our trip to Montana, I read Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk. This beautiful work of YA fiction drew me into Meg Kavanaugh’s world of Chapin, Wyoming; and I couldn’t stop reading until, in one day (and lots of traffic later), I reached the end.
My Rating: Four and a Half Robert Frost Poems Out of Five
Back Cover Blurb (Taken from Amazon)
The ice cold fear I’d felt, not knowing if Wyatt was alive, pressed into the wall with other girls and surrounded by guys who were unspeakably brave, hit my body again in a wave. This was trauma—the gift that keeps on giving.
When Meg Kavanagh finds herself in the unthinkable role of grieving sister, she discovers some harsh truths—parents aren’t perfect, life’s not always sweet, and the dead don’t write back. Her famous artist mom grieves by slowly disappearing, and her dad copes by moving them to a small town in Wyoming. 
What she finds in Wyoming blindsides her.
His name is Henry, and he shows Meg that the best things in life—like falling in love and finding mercy—require uncommon courage.
What I Loved
Meg. Meg, our glass girl, is one of my favorite MCs in all of YA literature. She’s so broken, and yet she’s trying to put herself together. She’s so weak, and yet she’s so strong. Meg is just…. Amazing. And I beg you to read the book so you can get to know her.
The setting of Chapin, Wyoming. Not many YA novels are set in beautiful Wyoming (this is the first book I’ve read with Wyoming as its setting), but Glass Girl just so happened to be surrounded with cowboys in trucks and barns full of horses and sunsets in a never ending sky. Even when I closed the book, I could picture the Wyoming setting and wished I could go to Chapin with Henry and Meg. 
All the little flashbacks. The author skillfully added a bunch of flashbacks from Meg and Wyatt’s life in Pittsburgh before (*spoilers*) happened. The flashbacks breathed more life to Meg and her family, more depth, and they made my heart ache even more. 
Mercy and grief. Love and loss. The themes of this book are delivered softly and sweetly, in the best way, little by little. Meg is relatable, and her story is one that I’m sure will touch many hearts.
What I Didn't Love 
Some of the content. I disliked some of the content (such as Tennyson's antics). Content-wise, I would recommend Glass Girl for readers 13 and up.
The fact that the book had to end. I wish Meg’s story could have gone on FOREVER.
Overall
I loved Glass Girl and would recommend it to anyone who loves YA fiction. This is a book that will never get old, and I will continue to flip back to my favorite parts. =) 
About The Author
Laura Anderson Kurk 
Laura Anderson Kurk writes contemporary books for young adults, a genre that gives her the freedom to be honest. Her debut novel, Glass Girl, is an unconventional and bittersweet love story, and its sequel, Perfect Glass, makes long distance love look possible.
She lives in Texas with her family.
Laura blogs at Writing for Young Adults (laurakurk.com). On Twitter, she's @LauraKurk.
 Have you read Glass Girl? What is one of your favorite book settings? Have you been to Wyoming? If so, TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT. What are your thoughts on flashbacks in novels? ISN’T THE COVER GORGEOUS?!?! Let’s chat!

The Cookie Book Tag

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I have discovered my dream tag. Cookies and books. All I need is a mug of cocoa and I'm practically in Heaven. Many thanks to Savannah of Scattered Scribblings for this tag. I just so happened to eat a few cookies during the month of July... So here I am. =) Ready to get started? 
Chocolate Chip // A book that never gets old
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A book that never gets old... I've flailed over this book before, and I'll do it again. Joanne Bischof's To Get To You will never get old for me. Every time I open it, I find something else about it that I love and another quote to highlight. =) 
Dutch Snowballs // A book that gave you an unexpected surprise
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I'm taking it that this doesn't mean nice surprises only.... *tears up* THIS WAS A BAD SURPRISE!!!!!!! A BAD BAD SURPRISE!!!!!! *more tears* The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morill was full of twists and turns and surprises. This book ruined me. Yet I still have no regrets. xD 
Molasses // A book with a character that gets in a sticky situation 
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Isn't that every book EVER? xD A book with a character who gets into an especially sticky situation is Stone and Snow by Sibella Giorello. I couldn't help but feel a little sick to the stomach as Raleigh was torn between being loyal to her friend and hurting the people around her through her actions as she tried to solve a certain mystery. 
Oreo // A book dealing with the light and the darkness
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When I think light and darkness, I automatically think of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. I never finished the last book (*hides face in utter shame*), but the light and darkness thing can be so literal in Tolkien's writing. Sauron and Gandalf, orcs and elves, Mordor and the Shire.... Oh, I need to read these again. 
Sugar // A book with a sugary sweet villain
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Definitely Entwined by Heather Dixon. Keeper was so nice at first... He let Azalea and her sisters dance, always provided desserts that I wished I could take off the pages... *happy sighs* AND THEN HE TURNED!!!!!!!! But he seriously was so sugary sweet and evil all at the same time. Mostly evil though. *glares at Keeper* 
Monster // A book that confused your emotions
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The Selection by Kiera Cass confused my emotions. I mean, one moment I'm rooting for America and the next I utterly despise her. And then I can't pick between Maxon and Aspen and then there are the other girls and goodness gracious this is a run-on sentence if I've ever seen one.... I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THE ENTIRE SERIES!!!! 
Snickerdoodle // A book that made you laugh
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Another Heather Dixon book!!!! Illusionarium really truly made me smile and giggle, ESPECIALLY Lockwood. Take, for example, this lovely quote....
"You shot the chandelier down, Lockwood? I yelled as bullets ricocheted past my head and jangled as they shot the prisms of the chandelier. I ducked down and shook the rifle from my shoulder.
"Of course not!" Lockwood yelled, his rifle firing so rapidly it fogged the air with steam. "I climbed up the wall and pulled it down with my weight, what do you think?" 
-Illusionarium by Heather Dixon
#lockwoodforever Enough said. xD
Peanut Butter // A book with a nutty character
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One of the nuttiest characters I've encountered in fiction is good old Peet the sock man in On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. Socks on his hands, a quirky wooden castle in the woods, his strange way of speech.... Nutty doesn't do Peet justice. xD 


Have you eaten any cookies or read any books lately? What's your favorite type of cookie? What's your favorite genre of book? Have you read any books with characters who love cookies in them (and not just If You give a Mouse a Cookie...)? Get some cookies, cocoa, and a good book and let's chat! 

The Writing Tag

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I'm finally getting to this long overdue writing tag! Many thanks to Jem Jones and Lilly for tagging me! Alright, let's get started with the questions....
What Genres, Styles, and Topics Do You Write About?
I write under the YA Christian fiction umbrella, and so far, beneath that, I’ve explored contemporary, mystery, fantasy, and historical. Historical and contemporary have been the ones I’ve “clicked” with the most—in fact; I’m currently working on a contemporary project and a historical project.
I’m a little confused about the styles part of the question, but topics I write about… I like to write about topics that are near and dear to my heart such as my faith, Uganda, etc.

How Long Have You Been Writing?
I’ve been writing seriously for about two years now, but when I was little I would draw a bunch of pictures and have my mother staple them together as books. I would then narrate the wording for each page to my mother and she’d dutifully write my words down. I don’t have any of these books, but I do have my very first book I ever “wrote.” It’s all about Dora and her friends with my scribbled drawings and stickers dotting the pages—not a bad start for a promising career. xD

Why Do You Write?
Here are five reasons I write: 
1. I believe that God gave me this gift of writing, and I want to use it to glorify him to the best of my ability.
2. Writing is like a “therapy session” for me when I’m feeling down, confused, etc.
3. Writing is a way I can be Jesus’ hands and feet.
4. Writing is a way I can run wild, make worlds, and learn.
5. Writing is my passion.

When is the Best Time to Write?
The best time to write is when you have any time to squeeze in writing at all! I try to write or work on a project for at least half an hour every day, and that half hour usually comes in the afternoon or before I go to bed… It really depends on what my family is doing, how many chores I have, etc.
What Parts of Writing Do You Love? What Parts Do You Hate?
I love being able to create worlds and have fun with my imagination. I love being able to touch people with my words. I love sitting in front of a first draft with a goofy smile on my face. I love reading my favorite quotes of my own work and dreaming of a hopeful someday when I can hold a print copy of my novel in my hands.

I hate losing steam in the middle of a project. I hate getting writer’s block. I hate being told that I’ll never make it. I hate that others don’t always understand why I love this and why I’m spending so much time doing this. I hate when my plot isn’t working and I’ve filled out a dozen plot outlines. But despite this, I’d never trade my love of writing for anything else.


How Do You Overcome a Writer's Block?
One way I overcome writer’s block is by skipping the scene I’m having a hard time with and marking it with a placeholder so I can come back later. Then, I continue writing until I’m ready for that particular scene. Another thing I do is re-motivate myself by creating playlists for my projects, collages, back cover blurbs…. Creative procrastination helps, just sayin’. xD

Are You Working on Something at the Moment?
Yes, I’m working on quite a few somethings. I’m still brainstorming a novella for the Rooglewood contest and am reconsidering if the contest is something I will be able to have time for this year. I’m brainstorming also with a plot bunny that won’t leave me alone (lots of brainstorming, y’all.). And then I’m also taking a look at Hiraeth and trying to decide what needs to be done with it (no, it’s not finished.).  Lots of charts and scribbles going on. =)

What Are Your Writing Goals This Year?
My number one goal is to finish at least one of the projects I’ve mentioned above. I hope to have a first draft of either Hiraeth or the contemporary story idea done by the fall and to then edit it throughout the winter and releasing it to beta readers.
My second goal is to submit more of my writing to other publications and hopefully get published by them.
I’m not much of a schedule/goal/deadline person, if you can tell. xD

I Tag...

YOU! That is, if you haven't joined in the fun of this tag yet. =)


What are you working on right now? Do you have any writing goals? What is your favorite way to creatively procrastinate? What’s your favorite genre to write in? Read in? Let’s talk!

Unwritten Melody Book Review

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Unwritten Melody is one of those books that you pick up to enjoy over and over again-laughing and sighing at your favorite parts. It'll have you singing along with James Russo and clicking at a typewriter in no time, trust me. =) Don't worry, I might get to my schedule that I had all planned out.... Maybe. I don't do well with schedules. xD

My Rating: Five Blocks of Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Out of Five
Back Cover Blurb
Does breaking free require breaking the rules?
Cassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.
James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.
As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?
Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.
My Review
Unwritten Melody, a YA romance by Tessa Emily Hall, is a memorable tale of love, loss, hope, and healing. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t tear my eyes from the story of James Russo, a pop star seeking to escape his past in Willow Creek, South Carolina, and Cassie Gilbert, a small town girl with a thirst for freedom and the wish to be a “normal teen.”
One thing I loved about Unwritten Melody was how relatable the characters were. I could find myself nodding my head to bits and pieces of the beautiful story. Not to mention, Tessa skillfully mixes in a dash of humor and many praiseworthy messages. Quotable quotes are found throughout, and the story wasn’t just about the two teens falling in love, like many romances are, which is something I absolutely loved (pun intended =). 
The settings were painted so well that they became real in my mind. I loved the small town in South Carolina! The plot kept me flipping the pages (I finished reading in about two days). The characters were memorable, realistic, and relatable. The style of writing brought everything together as one amazing book.
Overall, Unwritten Melody is a must read, and a must re-read for me. Snag a copy on Amazon here, and be sure to check it out on Goodreads too!  
About The Author
img_5556Tessa Emily Hall writes inspirational yet authentic YA fiction to show others they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). The debut novel she wrote at 16-years-old, PURPLE MOON (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was a Selah 2014 Finalist. Her second novel, UNWRITTEN MELODY, releases with Clean Reads November 2016. She’s the Founder of PursueMagazine.net, a magazine that inspires teens to embrace their calling. Tessa also enjoys helping writers achieve their dreams through her internship at Hartline Literary Agency.
When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, Tessa can be found making healthy homemade lattes, speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. She writes in a small town nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Southeastern coast. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website.
Have you read Unwritten Melody? Do you like peanut butter fudge? Making music? Listening to music? Have you been to the beach? Or maybe to a quiet town in South Carolina? Let's chat!
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